April 13, 2021
2021 WNBA Draft Preview: Chicago Sky
Sky searching for backup point guard in draft
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At this point, Sky head coach and general manager James Wade could trade the No. 8 pick for a fax machine and still finish the offseason with an A+ grade.
Chicago enters the draft having landed the biggest free agent of the offseason: Candace Parker. A hometown player and future first-ballot Hall of Famer, Parker instantly makes the Sky legitimate championship contenders.
It cost Chicago Cheyenne Parker, who signed with the Dream. But Wade is betting big on the Candace Parker-Azurá Stevens pairing after extending Stevens through next season. In a convenient twist of fate, Wade was also able to shore up his front court depth by signing the recently-waived Astou Ndour, who the Sky signed and traded to the Wings last year in exchange for a 2021 first rounder.
Wade capped off his offseason by signing free agent Brittany Boyd to potentially back up point guard Courtney Vandersloot. The Sky also swapped second round picks with Dallas and now hold the No. 16 pick.
Expect the Sky to finally cement Vandersloot’s backup with their first round pick. While Boyd may be the answer, the Sky need competition at the backup spot and Wade isn’t looking for a one-season, duct tape fix.
Aari McDonald has been a popular pick for the Sky the past few months, but the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year may have played her way out of Chicago’s draft range. McDonald averaged 20.6 points, 4.0 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 steals while shooting 40.7% from the field and 34.5% last season with Arizona. Despite her size at 5-foot-6, McDonald is a terror on the perimeter.
If the Sky are set on McDonald, they could try and trade up with the Wings — who have an ungodly four first round picks this year. But Wade told Chicago Sun Times reporter Annie Constabile that he doesn’t intend on trading up. Whether that’s just GM gamesmanship from Wade or a legitimate message to teams remains to be seen.
In any case, Chicago is short on draft assets: they have the No. 8 and No. 16 picks this year, and a first rounder next year. Unless Dallas truly cannot live without acquiring more draft capital, those don’t do much for the Wings. If McDonald falls to No. 6 and New York isn’t enamored with the Arizona guard, Chicago could swoop in there. But that’s contingent on three teams passing on McDonald and the Wings passing on her three separate times.
But McDonald isn’t the only option at point guard in the first round. Louisville’s Dana Evans is another good fit for Chicago’s offense as a reliable, floor spacing point guard. Evans shot the three well her last three years at Louisville, and did so at a high volume her last two. Like McDonald, there’s concern over her size, but Evans’ well-rounded game makes her another obvious pick if available at No. 8.
If Evans and McDonald go earlier in the first, Kiana Williams would be another good fit for the Sky. Williams is an even-keel guard who has played at a high level for four years now at Stanford. Starting in 128 of the 137 games she played for The Cardinal, Williams feels like the type of player that could slot right into the backup spot in Chicago.
Trading into the second round means Chicago is shopping for cheap depth and training camp competition. There’s a lot of volatility surrounding this draft — don’t forget the Storm traded the No. 1 pick for former Sky forward Katie Lou Samuelson — so Wade may see an opportunity to nab a player he likes who falls to the Sky at No. 16.
If Wade wants to grab another guard to compete for a roster spot, players like Destiny Slocum from Arkansas and Baylor’s DiDi Richards are good options. Syracuse’s Tiana Mangakahia’s passing also makes her an interesting prospect to bring into the fold.
Given Chicago’s tight cap situation and limited roster space, Shyla Heal, a 19-year-old Australian guard, would be a good draft-and-stash candidate as well.
Other team-by-team WNBA Draft previews: